Category: Policy and politics

This conscientious objector case is a little shocking

published date
October 9th, 2006 by

This conscientious objector case is a little shocking

From the Boston Globe (Army-financed doctor granted objector status)

An anesthesiologist whose medical training was financed by the Army must be discharged from the Army Reserve as a conscientious objector, a federal judge ruled yesterday.

Dr. Mary Hanna, for whom the Army paid approximately $184,000 to attend the Tufts University School of Medicine, had been scheduled to report to active duty Tuesday at Fort Bliss, Texas. Last December, as she neared the end of her residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Hanna notified the Army that her renewed religious beliefs [she is a Coptic Christian] were now incompatible with military service.

I don’t know the woman or the details of her case, but it all sounds a little too convenient.

There’s a long history in the US of conscientious objectors serving as medics or performing alternative civilian service (along with some “absolutists” who refused to serve in any way.) Is it really too much to expect for Dr. Hanna to work in an Army field hospital in Iraq or Afghanistan? How about a military hospital in Germany? Or a VA hospital in Boston? Or a public clinic?

No more Winstons or Salems in some NC hospitals

published date
October 4th, 2006 by

No more Winstons or Salems in some NC hospitals

Growing up I hated cigarette smoke, but my mom told me I’d have to get used to smoke-filled rooms, because that’s where the important decisions were made. Luckily times have changed, even in North Carolina. Hospitals in the Research Triangle Park area have gotten together to ban smoking on hospital grounds. That’s progress.

Looks like you can still smoke in designated smoking areas at Winston-Salem’s Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Cocaine makes a comeback

published date
October 3rd, 2006 by

Cocaine makes a comeback

Two items on the cocaine front. From the Durham Herald-Sun:

Eric Clapton is playing “Cocaine” again. The recovering drug addict and alcoholic… stopped performing the song… when he first got sober.

“I thought it might be giving the wrong message…[b]ut further investigation proved… it’s an anti-drug song…” {I wonder what he means by “investigation.” — DW}

Clapton also said he missed paying “Cocaine,” …just purely from a musical point of view.”

Meanwhile, back in New York (Maker of New ‘Cocaine’ Drink Gets Scolding From Lawmakers):

Outraged… lawmakers denounced the manufacturer of a new, highly caffeinated soft drink called Cocaine yesterday and called for a boycott of the beverage, saying it glamorized an illegal and deadly stimulant…

[Cocaine’s website] …offers recipes for cocktails like Liquid Cocaine, Cocaine Smash, Cocaine Blast and even Cocaine Snort.

The Times article goes on to talk about “condemnation” and “withering criticism” by various experts. It’s actually kind of funny to see the Times get so huffy. Meanwhile, the CEO of the drink’s maker says, “There’s a lot of irony and wordplay.” Actually, not that much.

Surprisingly, no one’s bothered to mention cocaine’s protective powers against tasers.

Police and the mentally ill

published date
September 28th, 2006 by

Police and the mentally ill

A Wall Street Journal article (With ‘Reality Visors’ Officers Try New Tack to Face Mentally Ill) was mainly encouraging. Police are learning to deal effectively and compassionately with the mentally ill rather than using aggressive techniques that are inappropriate and sometimes spark violent reactions. But I was a little surprised to read about what officers in Phoenix are up to:

[Police officers] …conducted home visits with… mentally ill residents to make sure they were attending therapy sessions, getting medical care and taking their medication. They urged the homeless mentally ill to move to shelters and voluntarily accept help for their illnesses… They even drive some patients to doctors’ visits.

Somebody in Phoenix should wake up and hire some psychiatric nurses to do home visits. Using police officers for that job is costly and ineffective.

Another reason not to ban immigrants

published date
September 25th, 2006 by

Another reason not to ban immigrants

An article in the USA Today (Caregivers’ health in ‘downward spiral’) reminds us of the stress faced by those caring for others:

Nearly all caregivers (91%) who participated in the survey… said they were depressed. The survey, which was done to figure out why caregivers as a whole report poorer health than the general population, was based on people reporting their own health. “Not surprisingly,” the survey says, “the degree of deterioration in caregivers’ health increases in relation to the amount of time they spend caregiving and the intensity of their caregiving.

Caregivers often miss their own routine doctor’s appointments, eat poorly and can’t sleep because they’re busy caring for a loved one.

What’s the solution to this problem? Affordable caregivers, mainly immigrants. Some working here legally, some otherwise.

It’s popular these days among “conservative” politicians to come down hard on illegal immigrants. For example, Massachusetts Gubernatorial candidate Kerry Healey has taken such a tack, proposing to make it harder for such immigrants to keep drivers licenses and send their kids to college. Those measures are poll-tested to go over big with the electorate, but I bet the approach wouldn’t be so popular if people were told, “Oh, and by the way that means your mom won’t have any relief caring for dad.”